Communities around Kanyika in the area of Traditional Authority Mwabilabo in Mzimba where Global Metals and Mining Company embarked on exploitation of samples for the mining project have expressed concern over delays by both government and the company in compensating and relocate them to another place.
According to Chipele Jere, Chairperson of Mwabilabo Area Development Committee communities in the area are facing enormous challenges following the delay by Global Metals and Mining Company to compensate them despite an evaluation assessment which was done in 2012.
Jere said, the Mining Company had stopped them from doing any development activities within their households saying they should not bother themselves because they (communities) are relocating elsewhere and that’s where they will have to build permanent houses and operate their businesses normally.
“Many of us had or have decent houses but you know what, we can’t take an initiative to renovate our houses or even build new ones because what we fear of is that we build a house today or do any development, very soon we leave our land and relocated somewhere else. Imagine, that is retrogressive in terms of personal development,” said Jere.
Sothini Kaluwa, Chairperson for Kanyika Mine Native Forum says much as they appreciated the exploitation of minerals in their land as part of development both to the nation and their community-but enough is enough, the mining company must pack and go as it has left them with hopeless minds resulting into numerous humane challenges that includes poverty and hunger among others.
“This mining company started its activities here somewhere in 2006 but the initial assessment was done in 2012.We had pretty of trees in our forestry but we stopped taking care of it with hope that they will care for our natural resources. Actually, we are development conscious people but these people have changed our mindset hence became lazy ones,” he said.
Kaluwa said about 45 houses in the area felt down because they were left unattended to simply because of people’s mentality that they are relocating to a new place. He also claims that at least 95 percent of people in the area are also affected with hunger because they have no motivation and spirit to practice farming with hope that they are relocating.
“We feel like our right to development as enshrined on section 30 of the country’s constitution is not enjoyed at all hence our call for these people to go and leave us alone,”he said.
Monica Moyo, 41 from Kawale village in the area of Inkosi Mabilabo in Mzimba said she is one of the victims to the resettlement process and that has resulted her to suffer quite a lot.
“I have five children plus myself. We are all sleeping in a small and shaky house because we currently don’t have a better shelter. Initially, I and my husband who just went away leaving me with the whole responsibility of taking care for the children built a house with burnt bricks but we did not finish it. Actually we had all the materials including iron sheets and cement but my husband ended up selling them all after we were told by these people in the mining that we will be relocating elsewhere. We were then left homeless,” she said.
However, it is against this background that the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has embarked on a dialogue process between all stakeholders that includes the community, government and the investor so that justice prevails.
In a position paper for extractive Industry in Malawi, CCJP’s Mzuzu Diocesan Secretary, Alnord Msimuko said CCJP embarked on advocacy work on the subject matter since 2008.
He said the Episcopal Conference of Malawi in their Pastoral letter applauded the Government for embarking on development initiatives that taking place in the country including mining.
“The Bishops however cautioned government to ensure exploitation of these resources does not negatively affect the wellbeing on host communities. Mzuzu CCJP therefore in the extractive project being implemented at Kanyika in Mzimba district is designed to capacitate community members (Rights holders) to defend and claim their rights,” he said.
According to Msimuko, CCJP is however saddened to observe that the government and the mining company are taking too long to finalize the compensation process; a situation which has negatively affected the livelihood of affected people in the area.
“CCJP is not blocking the government to issue a mining licence to Globe Metals and Mining, all we want is government to speed up process so that those people earmarked for resettlement are traumatized as has been the case,” he said.
Adding his voice, CCJP’s National Extractives Project Officer, Success Sikwese said it is of the interest of the Catholic Church to see government and Globe Metals come out and tell people the current position as regards the Kanyika Mine-saying it is also important that people of Kanyika are told the truth on issues of compensation and resettlement hence the reason they organized a media tour for journalists to appreciate challenges faced by the communities.
He said with support from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CCJP will strive to advance for the truth and justice through a project called “Transparency Initiative With Our Natural Resources” ( TIWONE).Sikwese said the goal of the project is to ensure that all people of Malawi benefit from the commercialization of the countries natural resources.
“Specifically the project seeks to achieve two objectives, first to ensuring that communities that are affected by mining activities are adequately compensated and supported for their relocation and secondly that communities voices out and influence decision making in mining activities in their areas hence the reason CCJP is worried to see that both Government and the mining company are not holding community meeting updates to the affected people on what is happening at Kanyika,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kanyika Communities have issued an ultimatum that until the end of March this year, the mining company should move away from their area or unspecified action will follow.
While admitting that there is a gap in running the whole process, Director of Planning and Development for Mbelwa District Council Tamanya Harawa faulted the procedure and mining law in the country
saying it’s not clearly understood hence need to be reviewed.
“We know where their worry is based on and mainly its about compensation and resettlement process.We do understand that their welfare has indeed changed but our understanding is that the investor has not yet been granted a mining licence hence no compensation can take place right now. Meanwhile, the investor has an exploitation licence and not mining license, so its my hope that there will be a review on this,’ said Harawa.
The government of Malawi granted exploration licence to Globe Metals and Mining to at Kanyika in Traditional Authority Mabilabo in Mzimba. About 244 families are the ones affected by the relocation process so far.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :